Gudjohnsen feels time is right to secure Chelsea starting spot

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The Independent Online

Eidur Gudjohnsen believes it is time for him to "step up another level" and find the level of consistency to match Frank as a virtually automatic selection at Chelsea.

Eidur Gudjohnsen believes it is time for him to "step up another level" and find the level of consistency to match Frank as a virtually automatic selection at Chelsea.

However, the striker admits that, as well as pledges of confidence from Jose Mourinho, he is also looking for a good old-fashioned "kick up the backside" to get the best out of him. Lampard is now the example for many of his team-mates to aspire to, having just set a Premiership record for an outfield player of 114 consecutive appearances.

Gudjohnsen has so far survived the Chelsea spending spree that has brought Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu, Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman to boost the Stamford Bridge attack. While Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has left, and Mikael Forssell and Carlton Cole - as well as Crespo - have all been farmed out on loan, the Icelandic international has retained his place in the squad.

He has even earned himself a new contract and, since the start of pre-season friendlies, has been left out of the starting line-up just twice. However, with one goal to show for his efforts in Chelsea's seven competitive fixtures so far and with two consecutive Premiership goalless draws, he accepts that he must start to deliver.

"It's time for me to step up to another level and find more consistency, to try to push forward and be one of the first names on the team-sheet," he said. "I'm 26 now so it's a very important season for me and I'll put everything into it."

Chelsea's goalscoring problems against Aston Villa and Tottenham stem as much from their need to find a creative spark as any finishing weaknesses up front. Damien Duff's return to fitness should help, with Mourinho having insisted that the winger still has an integral role to play in the club's future.

Gudjohnsen, meanwhile, who has been at Chelsea for four full seasons, scoring 60 goals in his 176 appearances for the Blues, still needs to produce more to keep the likes of Kezman out of the side. After 13 goals in his first campaign, he linked up superbly with Hasselbaink to score 23 goals in 2001-02. With 23 goals in the past two seasons put together, however, he suffered from Claudio Ranieri's rotation policy.

"Sometimes it's difficult to be left out when you really think you should be playing or you've played well and scored, and you're still left out," he said. "At times, it was hard for me to handle and, especially a couple of years ago, when I was injured through the whole of pre-season, I'd have liked to have felt a bit more confidence in me from the manager."

Mourinho's arrival looks to have reignited Gudjohnsen's chances, with he and Drogba forming the new manager's first-choice strike partnership.

"It's nice to hear good things from the manager and to feel confident that the club and the staff have a lot of confidence in me," he added. "Hopefully that, plus hard work, and using the competition in the team to get the best out of myself, can lead to a strong season for me."

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